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Welcome to an Exciting 2009-10 School Year

Joel SeligmanFor those of you returning, welcome back! We have had a busy summer, and the University community can anticipate an exciting 2009-10 year ahead.

Let me also offer a special welcome to our new students. You are joining an exciting and energized university.

In the College, the entering Class of 2013 was drawn from a record number of applications. Early decision applications were up by 25 percent. We saw progress not only in the number of applications, but also in measures of quality and in diversity. Among new academic initiatives this fall, the College is launching a new degree program related to public health. Also becoming available this year are new clusters focusing on sustainability, music, visual and literary arts, and global and African diasporic studies. There’s also a new certificate program in stage management.

The Simon School also has seen tremendous interest in its MBA program, particularly among women applicants. The success is due in part to the school’s nationally recognized Early Leaders program and other innovative efforts.

In a partnership with the Simon School, our newly renamed Edmund A. Hajim School of Engineering and Applied Sciences will enroll its first students in a new master’s degree program in technology and entrepreneurship.

The celebration of the naming of the Hajim School is part of what will be a memorable schedule of fall events. During Meliora Weekend, October 8-11, we will formally dedicate the Hajim School in honor of our Board Chairman Ed Hajim ’58, who made a $30 million commitment to the University. The weekend also will include a keynote address by United States Secretary of Energy Steven Chu ’70, ’98 (Honorary), along with entertainment from comedian Bill Maher, alumni reunions, and homecoming.

During Meliora Weekend, we also will celebrate the reopening of Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre. This storied hall has been among this nation’s leading performance venues since it first opened in 1921. On Thursday, October 8, the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra will present the first concert in the new hall, including the debut of an original composition by Eastman Dean Douglas Lowry entitled Geo. On Friday, October 9, the Eastman Philharmonia, under the direction of Eastman Professor of Conducting and Ensembles Neil Varon, will present the first performance in the new hall by an Eastman student ensemble.

Later in October, scholars from around the world will arrive on campus for a three-day international conference on the legacy of Robin Hood. A highlight of the conference will be the world premiere of a tinted nitrate print of Douglas Fairbanks’s 1922 Robin Hood. The film has been newly restored by Rochester’s George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film and the Museum of Modern Art and will be screened at the Dryden Theatre.

Men’s soccer kicks off the year on Tuesday, September 1. On September 19, the Yellowjackets travel across town for the fifth edition of the Courage Bowl against St. John Fisher College. We have added a new varsity sport to our roster of athletic opportunities for students. Women’s rowing became our 23rd varsity sport this summer and the team has a full schedule for the fall, including the Head of the Genesee Regatta on October 11 on its “home water” in Genesee Valley Park.

We continue to strengthen ties between the University and our surrounding neighborhoods. In its second year, Riverview Apartments in Rochester’s 19th Ward quickly filled up with 400 students eager to have a taste of living off campus. This spring several University departments, including our Employment Center and Finance Department, relocated to the Brooks Landing Business Center, a new 28,000 square foot office building in which the University is the lead tenant.

On the River Campus, at the end of this academic year, we will begin $5 million in renovations to the dining facilities of Wilson Commons. Beginning next June, we will add a hearth-style pizza oven, a range of healthy and convenient food options, and reconfigure the seating space. The work on a renovated “Pit” is scheduled to be complete in time for the start of the fall 2010 semester.

At the Medical Center, construction began this summer on the Clinical Translational Science Building. The 200,000 square foot facility on Crittenden Avenue next to the School of Nursing will build on the University’s great strengths in applied medical research. Our new 52,000 square foot outpatient Ambulatory Surgery Center opened in July and has begun to address the fastest growing area of clinical activity.

Medical Center CEO Brad Berk continues to make progress in his recovery from a serious spinal cord injury suffered last May. Mark Taubman is providing outstanding leadership to the Medical Center as Acting Chief Executive Officer. At the School of Medicine and Dentistry, Lissa McAnarney is serving as acting dean until a successor is selected to former dean David Guzick, who recently became CEO of the University of Florida’s medical center.

I will report in greater detail on the outlook for the coming year in my annual “State of the University” address to the Faculty Senate on September 8. The address will be available to the University community the next morning.

Best wishes to all for a successful school year.